Bartender Spotlight: Central Coast
Written by: Tom Sullivan
Austin Hedges is a spirits guy. Growing up on California’s central coast, the region was mostly
known for it’s wineries. But things are changing. As breweries and microdistilleries pop up from
Santa Barbara to Monterey Bay, the area has taken on a whole new feel. And Austin is here for
it. Austin knows the Central Coast spirits scene as well as anyone. He’s been bartending for a
decade, and is currently the Beverage Director for the Central Coast Restaurant Group and Blast 825 Brewery. He’s a WSET 2 in Spirits (Wine & Spirit Education Trust), and according to popular opinion, makes the best Margarita flight in six counties.
When we visited Blast 825 Brewery in Orcutt, we asked Austin to share some of his expertise
What is the best thing about being located on the Central Coast?
The Central Coast is great due to it’s climate, temperature, and terrain. We’re still known for
our wineries, but with distilleries and breweries cropping up, there’s now a little something for
everyone. I’ve seen the rise of the craft spirits movement here, which is great because it’s not
just the big guys anymore.
What is your favorite recent trend/innovation in the Spirits industry?
With Tequila specifically, I like the trend of additive free juice. With the big guys all adding
caramel coloring, sugars, etc, it’s nice to have brands like Nosotros coming along and
giving us true beautiful crisp agave flavors without all the stuff covering it up and hiding the
beauty behind it all.
What is your favorite type of Nosotros?
I sell a lot of Nosotros Blanco but I love a Nosotros Reposado. It keeps all that fresh bell pepper
spice from the Blanco but adds that caramelized oaky flavor on top that helps smooth it out. I
can’t help but fall for the Ranch Water trend this year. Some Nosotros Reposado, lime juice,
and Club Soda, and I’m a happy guy.
Favorite cocktail to make?
I’d have to say it would be making the Margaritas with our Nosotros Blanco. That’s what we’re
famous for here at Blast Brewery. Our Margarita flights are the best.